A God in the Hands of Angry Sinners: How the Evangelical Misconstrual of God and Politics Spells Doom

Josh de Keijzer
6 min readJun 18, 2018

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Many people in the United States are familiar with the famous sermon Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan preacher and scholar in the Massachusetts of the 1700s, preached on the 8th of July 1741. The title of his sermon was “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As was his custom, Edwards read his sermon out loud. An utterly boring routine for a spiritually inert congregation. But something weird happened. People started shaking and trembling. Some fell to the ground sobbing and moaning. Edwards’ sermon is a good example of the theology of the Great Awakening, a movement of religious fervor and repentance that swept through the thirteen colonies of America and left a permanent mark on the Protestant faith in the North American continent.

Few today would be enamored with the vivid portrayal of a God who is so angry with humanity that he wants to surrender them to eternal torment. But the religious imagination in the 18th century was very different from what it is today and it worked in spite of Edwards’ boring preaching style. As an ex-evangelical, I feel uneasy whenever hell is used to whip people into repentance so as to avoid damnation. Yet, I appreciate the sentiment of sincere soulsearching of the time and the desire to live lives worthy of God and society. Complacency and a…

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Josh de Keijzer

Writes at joshdekeyzer.com. Writer, researcher, lecturer, Bonhoeffer scholar. Ph.D. in Philosophical Theology.